Cash Flows Into Michigan Congressional Campaigns

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Down economy or not, money is flowing freely to candidates in Michigan's three most competitive congressional races.

In two of those, in the 7th and 9th districts, incumbent Democrats own the fundraising edge.

And in the other, the 1st, the Republican candidate, Dan Benishek, has helped his cause by writing a few personal checks.

Michigan's congressional fundraising champ, though, is Dave Camp, in the 4th District.

Although Camp appears to be cruising toward an 11th term, the Midland Republican raised $2.6 million this election cycle and had $1.7 million cash on hand.

The figures through Sept. 30 were posted to the Federal Election Commission's website. Friday was the deadline for federal candidates to file their quarterly fundraising reports.

Totals for Camp's Democratic challenger, Richfield Township Supervisor Jerry Campbell, hadn't been posted as of Saturday afternoon.

Camp brought in nearly $777,600 during the July-September quarter, making him the top congressional fundraiser in the state during that time, according to the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Camp, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, is in line to chair the committee responsible for tax bills if his party takes control of the House.

The 57-year-old lawyer and former state lawmaker also led Michigan congressional candidates with more than $2 million in political action committee contributions.

"Interest groups are falling over themselves to show some love to Dave Camp," said Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. "That has nothing to do with his election. They're hoping he'll remember their campaign cash gratefully in the new Congress and help to make some accommodations in the tax code."

In all, MCFN data shows Camp is one of 10 Congress hopefuls from Michigan to post seven-figure fundraising totals for the cycle.

Two of those, freshman Reps. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek and Gary Peters of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township, are locked in bruising re-election battles in the 7th and 9th districts, respectively.

Through Sept. 30, Schauer had raised $2.79 million with $1.31 million cash on hand, compared with Republican challenger Tim Walberg's fundraising total of $1.25 million and $451,000 cash on hand.

Schauer spent more than Walberg raised.

Walberg, of Tipton, was in his first term when Schauer bounced him from Congress in 2008, and Walberg is looking to return the favor.

Peters enjoys a 2-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage over his Republican foe, Rocky Raczkowski, a former state representative and Army officer from Farmington Hills.

Raczkowski actually brought in about $60,000 more in contributions in the most recent quarter, but badly trails Peters, a former state lottery commissioner, in fundraising totals for the full cycle.

In the 1st District, which opened up with incumbent Democrat Bart Stupak's retirement, Benishek had $125,000 more cash on hand than Democratic rival Gary McDowell. Benishek, a surgeon from Crystal Falls, had $308,800 on hand, compared with nearly $183,000 for McDowell, a state lawmaker from Rudyard.

Benishek brought in $816,040 for the election cycle, although he put nearly $142,400 of his own money into the campaign. McDowell has raised more than $579,000, most of it from PACs. He hadn't put any personal money into the campaign.

Along with donations to their campaigns, congressional candidates in Michigan's most competitive districts have benefited -- and been the target of -- television ads paid for by political parties and outside groups.

Both parties' national organizations have dumped money into the 1st and 7th District races, which could help determine which party will control the House.

Through the beginning of the month, the National Republican Congressional Committee had spent more than $610,000 on ads helping Walberg and $460,000 to help Benishek.

"With outside money continuing to pour into this race by the hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund attack ads against Gary McDowell we know it's not an even playing field," McDowell campaign manager Dan Krupnick said.

But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $310,000 to help McDowell and better than $185,000 on ads helping Schauer.

Benishek campaign manager Mick Grunlund said he was confident the campaign would have enough money to "counter the distortions made by Gary McDowell."


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